Anthony Albanese says China has become “far more forward-looking” and that is what is driving Australia to change its foreign policy, which implicitly pushes criticism from former Prime Minister Paul Keating back.
The opposition leader on Thursday directly avoided criticizing Keating – a Labor elder who said both major parties had lost – but made it clear that he did not share the assessment of the strategic circumstances facing Australia now.
“China has changed its position – that’s the truth,” Albanese told the Nine Network when asked to respond to Keating.
“They are far more forward-looking. Australia is right in speaking out for our own values. China is the nation that has changed in terms of their attitude towards Australian imports, for example, and Australian companies are suffering.”
Keating, who served as prime minister from 1991 to 1996, said Beijing was “in teens phase of their diplomacy “and had” testosterone running everywhere “, but Australia had no choice but to engage in an increasingly powerful China.
Repeating a mantra from when he was prime minister, the Keating National Press Club reported that the Morrison government was erroneously “trying to find our security from Asia instead of in Asia.”
Keating also downplayed criticism of China militarization of controversial functions in the South China Sea by saying “great powers are rude”, saying Australia “should not be drawn into a military engagement over Taiwan” because democratically governed island with 24 million people was “not a vital Australian interest”.
Albanese later told reporters that he was listening to Keating, as a respected former leader, “but it Labor Party determines our policy going forward ”.
“And it’s a policy based on principles, but also based on recognizing where we are in 2021.”
Albanese’s comments are another sign that the opposition is trying to minimize the difference with the government in terms of national security and foreign affairs, as they try to fend off Scott Morrison’s and his minister’s efforts to portray Labor as weak in the run-up to the election. May.
Morrison told voters Thursday “you really can not trust them when it comes to these national security issues.”
Labor has supported the Aukus partnership with the US and UK to deliver at least eight nuclear-powered submarines, based on advice that they will need to be able to travel further with less detection as the prospects in the Indo-Pacific deteriorate.
Men Labor have also sought assurances of concerns such as Australia’s freedom to differentiate itself from the United States in military matters.
The opposition accused Morrison of confusing diplomacy around Aukus after French President Emmanuel Macron said the prime minister had lied to him about Australia’s plan to scrap the former $ 90 billion conventional submarine contract. That’s what US President Joe Biden told Macron had been handled clumsily.
Over the last 18 months, as Australia’s relations with Beijing deteriorated, Labor has tended to focus on competence issues rather than the major strategic issues, accusing the coalition of sharpening rhetoric for domestic policy purposes and do not have a proper strategy to deal with a more confident China.
Keating argued that the foreign policy debate in Australia was now driven by the “ghosts” in the security agencies, and when it came to the major foreign policy elections, the coalition and Labor were “fundamentally not up to it”.
He said Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman Penny Wong had chosen a “reasonably quiet political life” by effectively taking the view that “there should be no gram of daylight between her and the Liberal Party” on foreign policy.
Wong did not respond to criticism, but Albanese said Labor’s policies were necessary to recognize “where we are in 2021”, including “the era of strategic competition between the United States and China”.
He said he agreed with the Biden administration, “that what we need is competition without disaster”, and that it would require commitment – but it also required recognition of China’s change in its external stance.
Albanese said Labor’s foreign policy was based on three principles: “Our alliance with the United States, commitment to our region and support for multilateral fora.”
The Secretary of Defense, Peter Dutton, branded the former Labor Prime Minister “Grand Appeaser Comrade Keating”:
Morrison claimed that Keating reflected the views of “a lot of people in the Labor Party”. Morrison said Keating “was certainly out of line with what our government’s policy is and we certainly do not share that view”.
Turning to a national security election announcement, Morrison told the Nine Network: “[To] secure Australia’s interests in our part of the world you must be strong. You need to be able to stand up for it. You have to be able to see things clearly. “
Morrison said Australia wanted a positive relationship with China, “but at the same time we will not be pushed around”. He accused Albanese of “attacking me the other day with the Chinese government and others from abroad”.
In fact, Albanians did not support Beijing’s views, but quoted Macron’s accusation that Morrison had lied to advance Labor’s statement that the prime minister could not be trusted. Albanians also criticized Morrison for the “extraordinary” decision to release an SMS he had received from Macron.
Victorian Labor MP Peter Khalil said he did not subscribe to Keating’s “defeatist stance”. Khalil said it was flawed to assume that the Chinese Communist Party would become a benign superpower. He argued that it was not in line with its pattern of behavior over the last five to 10 years.
But Khalil supported concerns about submarine delivery schedules, saying Morrison had shown a “superficiality” in terms of strategic policy. “We would be very different from both Keating and Morrison in government,” Khalil said.